Intel’s “Atom” is unlike Acorn’s “Atom”

SOMEWHERE in this murky brown study I have an Acorn Atom – really it was a prototype for the BBC Micro, which Acorn also made.
The Acorn Atom was an early personal computer and had some nightmare qualities – the microprocessor got so hot that I had to use a hacksaw to stop the plastic casing melting onto the chip.
Interesting chip design, the Intel Atom. Wouldn’t it be better, though, if Intel used an ARM chip rather than basically producing something which seems to be rather close to the Via C7 family?
But it’s got hyperthreading, and my Acorn Atom could barely run a single thread successfully, although must say the BBC Micro was a vast improvement and did some very nice RISCy things.
Still this whole semiconductor market isn’t anything to do with chip design these days, is it? The Alpha is the undead while the Itanium lingers on like the ghost of Christmas Past.

3 responses to “Intel’s “Atom” is unlike Acorn’s “Atom”

  1. BBC Micro, RISCy? Naw, it was a bog-standard 6502. Things didn’t get RISCy for Acorn until the A310 with it’s stellar ARM2.

  2. Hello,
    & for the record: both the Acorn Atom and Acorn BBC (my very first computer :-) ) made use of the 6502 processor. It was the Acorn Archimedes that was built on the Acorn Risc machine (yes, that’s ARM) and ran under RISCos – the worlds first RISC homecomputer! Later, Acorn sold the ARM technology that ultimately wound up in the hands of Intel (though in a much evolved version).
    Kind regards, GK

  3. The blogger said ‘RISCy’ not RISC.

    Incidently, the designers of the 6502 utilized a simple instruction set. The resulting space saved on the die was used as an instruction cache.

    Sophie Wilson has stated that the 6502 was very fast for its day even when compared with 16 bit chips. Presumably the cache & the chip’s relative simplicity were a major factor in that.

    It all sounds a bit ‘RISCy’ to me.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.